The future of transportation will take new forms and, if Mini's latest concept vehicle is any indication, some of them could look like a rounded pod with wheels. That's one way to describe the Mini Vision Urbanaut concept, which made its real-world debut today at the DLD Summer conference in Munich, Germany.
The main idea that Mini wants to explore with the Urbanaut is redefining personal space, the company says. It explores this theme through three "Mini moments" that are central to the car's design. These moments adjust the look, lighting, and smell (yes, smell) of the concept car to create different moods: Chill, Wanderlust, and Vibe. Only one of the three moods is in operation while the vehicle is in motion. Mini says it wants to enable "unforgettable times" through these moments, and we can use them to understand what Mini thinks its customers want from future Mini vehicles.
The Mini Vision Urbanaut, should it ever see production, could be used as an "urban oasis," the automaker says. It packs a tiny, changeable living room into a body that's only 176 inches long. There's a chaise lounge-style rear seat, and the two front seats can spin around to face the interior that includes a little table on the side. When the vehicle is stationary, the rectangular steering wheel stows away, so it doesn't interfere.
When in Chill mode, the Urbanaut's rear seat, which the automaker has dubbed "Cosy Corner," can be adjusted into a more bed-like shape, and the dimmable ceiling lights turn green to make you feel like you're in a forest canopy.
Switching to Vibe mode opens the side door and windscreen to allow for interaction between those inside and outside the vehicle. Also, a media control panel appears, and animations of a graphic equalizer are projected around the car to emphasize the party atmosphere.
The only in-motion moment, Wanderlust turns the car into an autonomous chauffeur or, with a tap to bring out the "central circular instrument," a car you can drive.
The Urbanaut also offers a customizable "my moment" element, in which you can program the car's adjustable features to your personal preferences.
Mini has used the "Mini Vision" name for other concept vehicles, including the Mini Vision Next 100 in 2016. The Next 100 was an autonomous urban mobility concept meant to explore ways to share vehicles in the city. The company also used the name on a more traditional-looking car in 2013 called the Mini Vision Concept. Mini showed off a virtual-only version of the Urbanaut in late 2020.